I’m a delicate badass. I don’t like pain, but when you’ve broken a few dozen bones (arms, hands, fingers, legs, toes, feet, multiple vertebrae, tailbone, collarbone, breast bone, skull, and some others I know I’m leaving out) multiple times you become aware of two solid truths. You, or at least your body is completely breakable – brittle (I have Osteo Genesis Imperfecta, or OI, brittle bone disease) and it also builds up your tolerance to pain and gore and all that other good stuff, making you a badass.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had a true fracture, let alone a bad one. But it serves me right to have one now. I’m currently working on an essay about the pain scale, chronic pain and the perspective/relationship of pain and the person feeling it and of course my history of fractures pops up. Even specific references to my left arm, wrist and hand. So it seems fitting I would break two bones in my left hand while on a tight deadline to finish said essay. Because this is the universe I live in.
Let’s start with the obvious. This SUCKS. Like so hard… I act like it’s no big and in the grand scheme of things – it’s not, but it hurts. Like I have a crazy pain tolerance so I’m like “Whatever,” and I am not taking the hardcore pain pills the orthopedic surgeon prescribed (I have them just in case though, in which case I’ll cut a pill in half) and I can handle it – function, but seriously it HURTS. Like the pain is always there but every now and then my entire hand will start to throb and then the pain washes over me in waves, making me seriously nauseated. Then there is the whole functioning thing.
I’m left-handed. So while I can do things, I can’t do everything I normally could and the things I can do are different, which means they may be less effective, on point or at the very least much slower.
I keep trying not to worry about it. Honestly if it heals without incident, and heals the right way, I’m fine. Happy even. I’ll make it work. But it’s that fear and worry that it won’t that is seriously causing me anxiety. I almost wanted my doctor to prescribe Xanax over a painkiller. I even told my husband I was considering asking him to do just that!
I broke it on Tuesday night. A thirty pound mixer (steel) fell and landed right on the top knuckles of three fingers. Even if I didn’t have brittle bone disease, I would expect something to be broken. That’s like a thirty-pound steel brick landing on one of the most delicate bones in the human body. I mean – really.
I was pretty pissed off about it too. I was mad at my husband (if he had been helping me like he was supposed to, the mixer would not have landed on my fingers). I was mad at myself (if I had communicated better with my husband he would have helped sooner, or if I had waited for him, the mixer would not have landed on my fingers). And I was mostly mad at the situation. What a stupid way to get injured – fracture by rogue baking mixer! And of course the timing of it was pretty crappy.
My family was visiting and it was their last night. I was making pizza and cupcakes from scratch. I had things to do. And I didn’t want to spoil their last night with my stupid injury. But I also knew my finger looked bad and my other fingers were jerking and spasming and this may be beyond the typical “splint it” finger break. And I know that my brittle bone disease complicates pretty much everything about my fracture and my recovery. So I actually wanted to go to the ER.
To be clear, this happens – never. When I mentioned it to my husband, he was focused on not wanting to go and my family’s visit. My dad acted like it might not even be broken (bitch, please!) and suggested waiting a few days (hell to the no). I didn’t want to push and fight on their last night in town so I was just like whatever and finished dinner. (Yes, I finished making the pizza and then the cupcakes. Did I not mention I’m a badass? Albeit a domestic one.)
Still I was pretty irritated that I got resistance when I wanted to go to the hospital because even when I need major surgery I refuse to go. My husband has to beg, talk me into or sometimes bully me into it like last October. If I know I need to go I’ll eventually relent, but I never just up and volunteer. Don’t worry though, it won’t happen again. Obviously I have to act like the hospital is out of the question in order to have it as an option. And next time I really don’t need to go but my husband wants me to I’ll beat him to it and volunteer!
My husband mentioned my dad and his experience but my dad is not an orthopedic anything and he does not have brittle bone disease. He has two kids who have it – yes, but who is the better expert on it. The now-grown adult sons who have the disease or the parent who doesn’t? (Please do not tell me you actually had to think on this one. Seriously, please.)
I did urgent care the next day (OMG, never again. They were a mess! And I was the only patient there!) and they referred me to hand surgeon/specialist because the X-Ray showed a bad break and they suspected tendon damage, which would be a game changer.
I saw the surgeon (who I personally do not like, he doesn’t seem to know anything about OI and how it affects the bones, also I’ve seen him once before when another specialist wanted an Ortho consult, didn’t like him then either) and he was so casual I just… Deep breaths… But he had good news to tell me and I’m going to choose to believe him (for now). He doesn’t think there is any tendon damage, just a lot of trauma and bleeding which is why the other non-fractured fingers and joints are not moving like they should. Makes sense – okay. He wants to see me in two weeks to be sure though, because if it’s still an issue then… well then he may have to recant. But I have plenty of exercises to do while I wait to help my fingers along. Yes they’ll hurt like hell – that’s how you know they’re worth anything at all.
All of this pain and inconvenience aside, I’m actually appreciative for this experience, or more accurately past experiences. In 2010 I had a surgery on my left wrist/arm go horribly wrong. It ended with nerve damage and my left arm locked at the wrist and elbow, in different directions, like some sort of deranged tea pot spout. It took months of physical therapy to make it right and regain any function (I got as far as 95%) and in that time I had to learn how to do everything one-handed, but also with my right hand (and I am a proud leftie).
I thought all of that was behind me, as this is my first serious injury to my left hand since, but I’m pleasantly surprised with everything I remember – my body remembers.
I thought shaving would be hard, but honestly it really wasn’t. It didn’t even take that much extra time. Showering was also the same. I was worried, just out of habit my left hand would “forget” and try to wash my hair along with my right. It’s an everyday thing, same with eating with a fork or trying to catch something that is about to fall. But no. My body knows the drill. It remembers and is in “no use” mode. And I forgot everything I could do one-handed.
I never thought I’d be grateful for my ordeal with my hand, wrist and arm back then. And I’m not, even now. But I’m glad I can find something positive that came out of all of that pain, fear, physical therapy and invasive medical procedures. Now I know if I break or otherwise f**k up my left hand in the future – I’m covered. I can do eighty percent of what I always do with little noticeable difference. And my body/brain can just go right back to being “one-handed” as opposed to two-handed.
I mean don’t get me wrong, I am going to be so grateful to get my left hand back and have things return to “normal” but it’s nice not to have to go through some adaptive learning curve while I wait for that to happen. Because it’s just like riding a unicycle. 😉